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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Friday, December 15, 2006

CD 13: Jennings Suit Overcomes Hurdle

    "Jeb!" Watch

    The Jebbie retrospectives are starting to roll in, with delightful pieces like these: "Bush effective at moving massive agenda, maintaining popularity", "Bush's legacy on environment is successes, missed opportunities" and "Gov. Bush sums up his eight years in office"; and of course, "Bush's future a subject of speculation".

    CD 13: "State Drops Effort to Block Call for New Vote"

    "State attorneys Thursday withdrew a motion to dismiss a lawsuit calling for a new election in a long-contested Southwest Florida congressional race." This is lame:

    The Department of State decided that trying to get the case thrown out wasn't the most efficient use of resources, said Secretary of State spokeswoman Jenny Nash.
    Now, Jennings' attorneys can focus "on a Tuesday hearing to convince a judge to give them access to the source code that runs the electronic voting booths used in the contested election."State drops effort to block call for new vote". See also "Motion to dismiss Jennings' suit dead".

    "While lawyers meet in Tallahassee on Tuesday, the state audit team will return to Sarasota to examine memory chips on the county's iVotronic machines and begin to compare the software loaded on them with the software certified by the state before the election." "Motion to dismiss contested election lawsuit withdrawn".

    New Secretary of State

    "In an effort to repair the image of Florida's mocked and criticized elections, Gov.-elect Charlie Crist on Thursday tapped Kurt Browning, Pasco County's supervisor of elections, to be Florida's new secretary of state."

    It marks the first time that Republicans have turned to an elections expert to lead the department, which also deals with historic preservation and cultural affairs.
    Browning, like most SOEs, "has in the past been critical of having paper trails for touch-screen voting machines". Browning actually testified in opposition to paper trails in the lawsuit brought by "U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler to force a paper trail". "Crist's pick may bring paper trail for voters". Browning is now saying he is open to paper trails:
    "Whether it's a paper trail, whether it's some other method of voter verification, that's something that I want to look at as secretary. We'll see what's out there."
    That would be a change from the neo-neanderthal approach to elections asserted by the current Governor; recall that Jebbie's administration has consistently opposed paper trails on electronic voting machines, maintaining the devices are incapable of undervotes or overvotes." "Crist Taps Browning As Secretary Of State".

    But here's the kicker, Browning once actually disagreed with "Jeb!"!:
    Browning was among the elections supervisors who opposed a Bush proposal to give more control to the department and give it the power to fine elections supervisors who did not follow the state's edicts.
    Perhaps that was because he has a little Democratic spine still left in him. After all, "Browning was a Democrat from the time he registered to vote in 1976 until December 2002, when he switched to the Republican Party."

    His (almost) hometown paper likes him, as they do most things Republican: "Impressive Pick For Sec. Of State".

    The Tallahassee Democrat praises the "unmistakable signal that he considers administering elections to be the highest priority in the Department of State." However, Ion Sancho observes: "'Whether or not he can put aside his personal opinion [on the paper trail issue] and place the public interest ahead of that is something we'll have to watch'". "State weight".

    For more see "Crist taps Pasco elections chief", "Crist taps 2 for key posts", "Crist taps 2 for key posts", "Crist chooses experienced elections chief", "Pasco's Kurt Browning new secretary of state", "Crist names two more to administration", "Secretary of state named" and "Crist names two more to administration".


    You know they did the right thing when Judge Hawkes dissents (recall "Backward choice in Hawkes"): "Court rules judge violated right of teen seeking abortion".


    "Now that the Osceola County Commission has accepted a judge's order to change the county's voting system, Hispanics once again can have a fair shot at political office." "Making it work".

    Rubio Denies "Delusions of Grandeur"

    He doth protest too much: "Rubio: No delusions of grandeur".

    Local Bundling Prohibitions?

    Lawson "Lamar, the state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties, is getting behind a move to limit the practice of bundling campaign contributions. Bundling is a common way for powerful special interests to get around the law that limits contributions to $500. It's easy. All you do is hand over lots of $500 checks under the names of different but related companies." "Bundling of campaign gifts needs taming".

    Sorry, But Not Everyone "Loves" Jebbie

    "The board and Education Commissioner John Winn, both products of Gov. Jeb Bush's reform agenda, are building themselves a fortress against the winds of gubernatorial change. Tuesday, the walls began to publicly surface."

    At Tuesday's board meeting, then, Bush made a rare appearance. Not one for modesty, the governor said Florida has become "a model for our country in terms of results" and its agenda "is full of some of the most provocative and meaningful reforms in the country." ...

    Thus emboldened, the board launched into its own tactical maneuvers. The governor's two most unflinching supporters, former fundraiser Phil Handy and former charter school partner T. Willard Fair, are scheduled to end their terms on Dec. 31. But Bush reappointed them, knowing well that Gov.-elect Charlie Crist would begin work on Jan. 2 and could withdraw the appointments long before the required Senate confirmation.

    So the board decided to up the stakes. As new officers for 2007 and 2008, the members voted Fair in as chairman and Handy as vice-chairman. This is the same Fair who earlier in the meeting told Bush: "In my judgment, there is no greater person on this Earth than you. I love you."
    "Education board digs in".

    Tampa's "low-wage jobs and rising costs" In Spotlight

    "Broadcasting live from Ybor City, Dobbs sought answers during his hourlong town-hall forum, 'The War on the Middle Class.' ... Thursday's special spotlighted Tampa, including segments that showcased the port and highlighted figures that show the city is home to low unemployment, but also low-wage jobs and rising costs." "Dobbs Gives Voice To 'Ignored' Middle Class".

    Reading The Future

    The St. Pete Times editorial board declares that Charlie is so very sincere about "open government: "Crist has demonstrated this week that his commitment to open government and well-run elections, two areas where Florida could stand some improvement, extends well beyond political rhetoric." "A strong stand for openness".


    "Is Paradise Becoming A Parking Lot?" ("for a change, the study is being looked at as evidence that growth is not necessarily synonymous with progress.")

    For related concerns, see Bill Berlow's "Will our fondness for Florida spell its ruin?".

    Senate Partisanship Waning?

    "When Florida Senate President Ken Pruitt Tuesday named five Democrats as committee chairmen, the Port St. Lucie Republican as much as proclaimed that the stridently partisan practices of the past eight years have ended - at least in his chamber." "Not as usual".

    Let's see what happens when the Dems actually try to get a bill passed that is not approved by AIF.

    A Family Affair

    "Dr. Andrew Agwunobi will be the secretary overseeing the regulation of 32,000 hospitals and health care facilities and the management of the $16 billion Medicaid program. He is currently chief operating officer for St. Joseph Health Care Systems, which runs hospitals in California, Texas and New Mexico. His brother John was Florida's health secretary before President Bush named him assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services." "Secretary of state, health care administration head named".

    Electronic Voting a "Gamble"

    "State and federal standards fall short of what industry or government requires for off-the-shelf commercial software, aircraft electronics, even casino slot machines, critics say. With democracy at stake, they say, shouldn't the bar for voting machines be set as high?"

    Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology produced a report that assailed the design and security of voting machines. The institute advises the election commission.

    "Much evidence has been produced that voting systems in general are not developed according to rigorous models of secure code development nor tested with the rigor of other security-critical applications," the institute's team reported.

    The comments echoed a 2005 report from the Government Accountability Office, citing "weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate system version control, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management and vague or incomplete standards, among other issues."

    Resulting problems, the authors wrote, have ranged from machine breakdowns to the ability to alter stored votes without leaving a trace.
    "Gambling On Votes? Experts Say You Do".


    "Crist party comes to Tampa on Sunday".

    We certainly are not on the Obama bandwagon, at least not yet, but what sort of an idiot (hint: Human Events) writes garbage like this: "'Obama could be the Democratic Katherine Harris in 2008—strong enough to win the primary, but unelectable in the general elections because he's a liberal lightweight who'd be victimized by Democratic racism.'" "Obama the Democrats’ version of Katherine Harris?".

    Death Politics

    "Death penalty opponents are questioning the way Florida executes people - and wondering whether a new governor will change anything - after it took 34 minutes for Angel Diaz to die from lethal injection Wednesday. Gov.-elect Charlie Crist weighed in with caution ... ." Chain Gang Charlie's current stance "is a far cry from his position eight years ago when, as a state senator, he quipped, 'I don't care if you fry them or inject them, as long as you kill them.'" "Execution Puts Crist To Test". See also "Florida death-penalty system: In legal limbo?", "State probes lengthy execution" and "Bush orders in-depth look at Diaz execution".

    See Ya

    "Harris calls departure from public office 'a new beginning'." "Moving day".

    Another Month For Hadi

    "A judge on Thursday gave Department of Children & Families Secretary Lucy Hadi another month to persuade him that she shouldn't be held in contempt for failing to immediately find room in state hospitals for mentally ill jail inmates." "Judge gives DCF one more month to argue its case".


    "Klein's campaign manager, Brian Smoot, said the campaign owes roughly $80,000." "Ron Klein's IOU".

    Not In Charlie's League

    "Alex Sink, the incoming chief financial officer, has raised $31,000 for her Jan. 2 inauguration party, according to her new website." "Sink has raised $31k for party". See also "Sink will post names of donors".

    Midnight Pardons

    "Bush's decision marks the first time since he became governor that he has agreed to release from prison someone charged with first-degree murder." "Gov. Bush pardons 2 women serving life sentences".

    You Go Bill

    "White House intensifies criticism of Sen. Nelson for Syria trip". See also "Bush administration says senator's trip to Damascus is a mistake".

    This takes nerve: "White House: Syrian leader used Nelson".


    "Kathleen Shanahan, former Gov. Jeb Bush staff chief and current vice chair for Gov.-elect Charlie Crist’s transition team, was just announced as the newest member of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential exploratory team." "McCain scores a Bushite".


    "House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber drew attention for his strong words about the Republicans who will lead debate on insurance."

    But a Buzz reader says it's only fair to point out that Gelber, like Reps. Don Brown and Dennis Ross, has gotten campaign contributions from the property insurance industry. About $1,500 in the 2006 election, records show.
    $1500 is hardly in league with the typical GOoPer; in any event, Gelber certainly hasn't been influenced, as he receives one of the fines compliments a legislator can receive:
    Gelber, in response, pointed out he was near the bottom of legislative rankings by Associated Industries of Florida. "I'm not too worried about whose side I'm on," he said with a laugh.
    "Plenty of insurance money to go 'round".

    Cuba Hope

    "The Democrats' capture of Congress and Cuban leader Fidel Castro's illness have dramatically altered the battle lines over Cuba policy and given new hope to opponents of U.S. sanctions, analysts say." "Cuba ban's critics hope hard line is softening".

    Who Won On Oil Drilling

    While some Florida editorial boards praised the recent oil drilling legislation as a "good" thing, it is perhaps of some value to know who else thinks it was a good thing:

    "Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) was the first statewide general business group to endorse exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) last December 15th. It has been a very long haul in order to secure this victory, but AIF’s Board and members always felt that this was the RIGHT thing to do."
    "Gulf of Mexico Oil Drilling Bill Scores Victory".

    Missed Opportunity

    "It is too bad that U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo's visit to the Rotary Club of Miami was canceled this week. We would have welcomed the opportunity to hear him speak, and let his own words speak to the merit or lack thereof of his ideas on immigration and Miami. The subject is fundamentally important to America's future, and Mr. Tancredo is one of the people who will help determine the outcome of the debate." "Tancredo's visit a missed opportunity".

    Jebbie's Corporate Welfare ...

    has cost him with his libertarian friends at the the Cato Institute who "gave him a 'C' as he walks out of the governor's mansion, down from a 'B' in 2004 and an 'A' in his first term. Why? Florida's 'explosive' spending growth, notably Bush's $310-million pet project to lure the Scripps Research Institute here." "Jeb Earns a 'C'".

    Goodness gracious, imagine the grade "Jeb!" would have received had he appropriated money for a 5% statewide raise for teachers?

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